Washington-based Haggen bought 146 Albertons and Vons locations in Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington and Oregon earlier this year — you might have noticed your local Albertsons has changed its name and color scheme. More recently, social media posts and newspaper stories have blasted the company for laying off hundreds of workers, in particular the developmentally disabled.
The Santa Barbara Independent is reporting that a 60-year-old developmentally disabled man named William Morris, who had worked as a courtesy clerk for over three years at Haggen, is suing the chain on behalf of himself and “all California-based developmentally disabled courtesy clerks that Haggen has laid off since the beginning of this year.”
The Independent reports that “Since taking over and rebranding a number of Vons, Pavilions, Albertsons and Safeway stores in Southern California in 2014, Haggen promised job security to existing employees and that “nothing would change” for them, states the complaint. However, Morris’s attorneys argue, the corporation unfairly terminated developmentally disabled courtesy clerks when they “engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against developmentally disabled employees by disproportionately terminating them from Haggen employment.”
EWasked Haggen’s Oregon public relations firm if it too was laying off workers, including the developmentally disabled.
Lee Weinstein and Deborah Tomecek Pleva of Weinstein PR responded with a statement (included in full below) that says “we must manage labor to the needs of the business in compliance with the terms and conditions of our collective bargaining agreements” and that there are different business issue in the Pacific Northwest Region versus the Pacific Southwest where the issues with the layoff of developmentally disabled employees have arisen.
The statement continues, “In some stores in the Pacific Northwest, hours have been adjusted to accommodate the natural seasonal summer slowdown. Hours vary from store to store and we will continue to adjust our staffing based on the needs of the business. We look forward to adding hours back as sales return in the upcoming back-to-school and holiday seasons.”
With respect to the layoffs in our Pacific Southwest (PSW) Region, and potential impacts in the Eugene area, we must manage labor to the needs of the business in compliance with the terms and conditions of our collective bargaining agreements. We abide by the terms of the agreements.
In the Pacific Southwest Region, where we have a much different set of business issues than in our home region in the Northwest, it was necessary to eliminate the Clerks Helper positions entirely. Although these business decisions in the PSW region were necessary, we care for all of our former associates there who were impacted. We have already helped many of these associates there find other jobs through individual support and by reaching out to and working with concerned leaders and organizations in the community. We will continue to do so.
In some stores in the Pacific Northwest, hours have been adjusted to accommodate the natural seasonal summer slowdown. Hours vary from store to store and we will continue to adjust our staffing based on the needs of the business. We look forward to adding hours back as sales return in the upcoming back-to-school and holiday seasons.
Our commitment to local farmers and food producers, as well as community organizations, is something that we’re prepared to sustain for the long haul. We’re proud of what we do, and we love to explain to new customers who we are: long-time Washington grocers with a passion for great food, as well as a deep commitment to supporting our local farmers, food producers, nonprofits and schools that really matter to our customers. That genuine, personal connection is at the heart of everything we’re doing.
For Earth Day, Haggen donated $6,417 to Crater Lake National Park.